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Saleshado shares BCP stance on constitutional review

26 May 2024

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader and Maun West MP, Mr Dumelang Saleshando, says they have consistently promised a Constitutional review in their manifestos, once they assumed political power.

Contributing to the ongoing Constitution Amendment Bill of 2024 debate in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Saleshando observed that the BCP pledged the commitment on page 13 of its 2009 Manifesto, stating, ‘our promise is to set up a Constitutional Review Commission to strengthen the country’s commitment to upholding civil liberties’.

Furthermore, he quoted the 2014 BCP Manifesto, page 27, which states that, ‘The BCP shall set up a Constitutional Review Commission’.

Mr Saleshando dismissed allegations that the aim of opposition political parties was to frustrate the ongoing Constitutional review process, underscoring the BCP’s longstanding commitment to the constitutional review exercise.

In addition, Mr Saleshando said BCP had, in 1999, published a book titled, Democratic and Development Programme, which on page 15, clearly stipulated the party’s political values and beliefs.

He observed that on page 15 of the book, the BCP addressed issues of modernising democracy and second-generation human rights, including education, health, work and cultural rights.

“You have no moral authority to lecture us about the importance of Constitutional review or second-generation human rights, such as the right to work, because you have ignored them for many years,” he stated.

Mr Saleshando also cited the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, which Botswana was a signatory to.

He noted that Article 10 of the Charter states, ‘State parties shall ensure that the process of amendment or revision of the Constitution reposes on national consensus, obtained if need be, through a referendum’.

He argued that the current Constitutional review process did not serve national interests. To illustrate that Batswana’s aspirations were overlooked, he pointed out that direct election of the President did not form part of the recommendations.

“Batswana want direct election of the President, so let it be part of the referendum and allow the people to decide,” he added.

He attributed part of the nation’s seeming polarisation to the perception that the Constitution was being reviewed to serve the interests of the Botswana Democratic Party.

Mr Saleshando expressed concern that about 33 per cent of the recommendations did not address the Constitution and therfore highlighted the need for a Constitutional Review Act to guide the process.

Furthermore, he opposed the increase in Specially Elected Members of Parliament, arguing that it did not promote democracy.

Mr Saleshando said he did not support the disqualification of former Presidents from active politics, saying that amounted to violation of their right to freedom of association. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Lorato Gaofise

Location : GABORONE

Event : parliament

Date : 26 May 2024